Wednesday, 28 June 2017

NEW! Snickers Ice Cream Tubs (ASDA)

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I caved and bought the Mars ice cream tub? Well it didn't take long for me to return to ASDA on the pursuit of the Snickers tub. Normally I'm a Mars bar over Snickers girl, but I'd heard great things about the ice cream version and simply had to find out for myself what it was like! 


"Peanut (4%) dairy ice cream with milk chocolate coated peanuts (10%) and caramel (7.5%) and chocolate sauce (7.5%)."

The caramel sauce was instantly evident as soon as I removed the lid, and so was the softness of the ice cream. In fact I was patient enough to wait for the temperature outside to cool down last week before attempting to try the Snickers ice cream (just for info Ben & Jerry's Sofa So Good is sofa no good to scoop on the hottest days either, unless you fancy mousse).


I couldn't see a huge deal of the chocolate coated peanuts though, and felt a pang of disappointment at the lack of chocolate shards that made a surprise appearance in the Mars tub. I hadn't written this ice cream off just yet though... 


Kudos to Mars for using real peanuts in the ice cream (yep, I'm looking at you Mondelez), but unfortunately it wasn't as flavoursome as I'd hoped. There was a mild peanut taste but it certainly wasn't on par with Ben & Jerry's or the Co-Op. It was still enjoyable though, and despite the chocolate sauce being as lost in this pint as it had been in the Mars version, the caramel sauce made up for that. 


Oh there they were: the chocolate coated peanuts! Jackpot! They'd just been well hidden amid the ice cream, and actually there was an abundance of them. They were pretty smashing too, large in size and delivering the chocolatey hit that was missing from the sauce, as well as a textural contrast from the welcome crunch. 


Perhaps the link between ice cream and chocolate bar is on the tenuous side, given that there's no nougat in the ice cream and that the peanuts aren't chopped and are chocolate covered, but I don't mind that -like I say, I'm not a huge snickers fan anyway. Personally the Mars tub pips the Snickers to the top spot, but only just, and it's well worth a try whilst on offer for £2.

7/10

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Marabou Daim Milk Chocolate Rolls (IKEA)

Please reassure me that I'm not the only weirdo out there that gets more excited by the food hall in IKEA than the furniture? It's surely the treasure at the end of the trail, the reward for getting through the market hall without murdering a dawdler (or five). No trip is complete without picking up a pack of my beloved Kanelbullar. This time I pushed the boat out and decided to treat myself to two bags, before spotting the chocolate and biscuit samples. Oops. That'll be two bags of Kanelbullar, some ginger and almond biscuits and some Daim chocolate then. After indulging in the Lindt shop a couple of hours earlier. And I'd promised to not buy anymore chocolate. I'll say it again, oops. 



To be fair, having sampled both the chocolate and the biscuits, I knew I'd regret not buying either. I think the Daim chocolates were £1.50 for the two-pack but I can't be 100% sure, so don't shoot the messenger. For those of you who don't know, Marabou is owned by Mondelez (owners *read ruiners* of Cadbury) and is the equivalent brand in Sweden. Like Cadbury, Marabou has lengthy roots and was founded 101 years ago. 

One of the most appealing features of this chocolate was the design. Instead of your usual chunky bars, the chocolate came in rolo shaped morsels. I love being able to savour my chocolate, and often wish we had more single serving bags of bite sized chocolate, so the Marabou Daims suited me down to the ground. At 70g, they're on the generous size for an individual portion, but I'm a chocoholic so once again I found Marabou scoring brownie points -or should that be chocolate points? 


The chocolate was delicious. It's smooth and rich with an easy melt. There's a striking similarity between the Marabou and Dairy Milk of days gone by. The little studs of Daim were a wonderful, if not a slightly sickly, addition. The combination of toffee and chocolate was delicious though, and utterly moreish -especially given the sunken dome shapes. I'd devoured my first pack before really acknowledging it, and I'm grateful that I've got the other in my fridge to look forward to. It's better than the Cadbury Daim bar, and the rolls are well worth tracking down.

That's another IKEA staple added to the shopping list!


9/10 

Monday, 26 June 2017

Rhubarb & Custard Iced Buns (M&S)

M&S' rhubarb and custard buns have been around for a couple of summers now, but I hadn't brought myself to buy any thanks to the unimpressive reviews I'd read on them. To be honest, it's only in the past six months that I've learned how great M&S filled buns can be. If you'll recall, the Christmas boobie buns kicked things off, followed by the lemon Whitby buns, and I well and truly fell in love with the carrot cake & cream cheese hot cross buns -which I've only just run out of thanks to my excessive hoarding. It was these discoveries that got me wondering about the rhubarb buns, and praying that they'd return once again this year. Alas! When the summer products started to grace M&S' shelves, the rhubarb buns were missing, but thankfully they were just a little late to the table. The rhubarb & custard buns are £1.35 for two, but of course a I waited to find them reduced. 


"Vanilla custard flavoured buns filled with a tangy rhubarb jam."

I also managed to buy them during the heatwave, which means that they were difficult to retrieve from their cardboard wrap without smearing the icing everywhere. To be fair, I was impressed that the topping had stayed as intact as it had. 

Slicing the bun in half revealed the generous pocket of oozy pink sauce. It was much looser than normal jam, and had a hard time staying within the bun -as you can see from the photo below. I felt that Rhubarb and custard was a bit of a marketing ploy on M&S' part, for the 'custard flavoured bun' didn't taste any different to their normal sweet dough. I mean, it was light, fluffy and scrummy, but it wouldn't live up to Ronseal's standards. 


As for that oozy rhubarb sauce, it was very sweet, lacked the promised tang and was just too thin. I'd have really like to have seen a chunky, slightly tangy, soft-set conserve here instead. Well, actually, if it was me designing the buns I would have filled the buns with both rhubarb jam and custard (or Creme patisserie). The consistency and abundance (which I'm certainly not complaining about) of the filling means that it's a bun best reserved to eat at home. Especially if you're even remotely in the clumsy club, and never eat one in a white shirt. 

The final disappointment came from the icing. I'd have liked to have seen a rhubarb flavoured topping as per the Greggs ring doughnuts (which have made a reappearance this year). M&S have been lazy though, and just used a standard unflavoured icing. 

Despite my complaints about them not being really rhubarb and custard-y, these are yummy buns and so If you imagine them to be big, sticky, raspberry filled finger buns you won't be disappointed. I will point out though that the Lemon buns are far more exciting, and well worth a try if you haven't yet. 


7/10

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Nellienoo Chocolate Malteser Malt Fudge (Online)

Do you remember me telling you about the subscription box company that celebrates the best of British independent confectioners? Well it's thanks to The Treat Collective that I came across Nellienoo fudge, and Nic's fabulous Caramac fudge (which you can find my Insta-review of here). As you can see, I was most impressed by it and so when Nic offered to send me a mystery pack of fudge this week I gladly accepted with due excitement. After all, who doesn't love a sweet surprise? 


I might've done (ok definitely did) a little jig around my kitchen when I came home to the Nellienoo parcel on Friday. Malteser fudge? My life is complete. Despite the fact that I was only home briefly before popping out for the evening I couldn't help packing a couple of pieces to take to the cinema with me. 


As with the Caramac flavour, the Malteser fudge was undeniably creamy. I hate grainy fudge (and find Scottish tablet unbearable) but this was completely smooth. In fact the fudge was more like a chocolate hybrid due to the satisfying melt that starts the minute you pop a piece in your mouth. As for the flavour, Nic has nailed that too, adding to the chocolate-fudge hybrid experience. It tasted exactly like Maltesers thanks to the malty undertone that fully complimented the chocolate flavour at the foreground. 


My one complaint about the Caramac fudge was the lack of topping, but each piece of this fudge had a single Malteser adoring it. I had wondered if they would manage to retain their crunchiness -no one wants soggy balls after all 🙈- but they were as crisp as ever, providing a wonderful textural contrast against the silken fudge. Perfection. 

If you've got a sweet tooth you must check out Nellienoo fudge's website and Facebook page. Nic's creations are all handmade, and she sells an ample selection of incredible looking fudge (all available for UK delivery). Thank you to Nic for sending me the Maltesers fudge to try. 


10/10 

That makes it a hat trick of full marks this week - this has to be some kind of blog record!

Saturday, 24 June 2017

NEW! McVities Coffee Caramel Digestives (Sainsbury's)

Tomorrow will mark two months since  the two new McVities caramel digestive flavours were announced, and since then I've been on my longest and most frustrating snack hunt to date. It seems I'm not the only one who's been desperate to try the new biscuits, as many of you have got in touch, sharing my  disappointment. At long last though I have got my hands on both varieties though (you can read my review of the banoffee caramels here) thanks to the lovely Beth and her digestive-related determination. I'm just glad I'm not the only foodzilla out there! The new coffee caramels can be found at Sainsbury's now for a rather exorbitant £1.75 -which usually I wouldn't pay, but given the length of time I've been searching for them I could hardly leave them behind. According to Beth's email from McVities, they'll be stocked in ASDA from next week and Morrisons the week after. 


"Wheatmeal Biscuits with Coffee Flavour Caramel, Covered in Milk Chocolate."

The components bare striking resemblance to the Cappuccino Twix (which, FYI, have recently popped up again, this time in Poundland at 3 for £1). I must admit though that I was less impressed when I re-tried the Twix version recently though; the caramel just wasn't as coffee-y as I had originally thought. I found myself praying that McVities had done just as good a job with this new flavour as they had with the banoffee.

I knew I was on to a winner as soon as I opened the packet and was greeted with the scent of freshly made latte. I say latte because it wasn't knock-your-socks off espresso, but the aroma was still promising.

The second sign that led me to believe that the Coffee Caramel Digestives weren't going to disappoint occurred when I left a couple in the living room whilst I retrieved my mug of coffee from the kitchen and heard a clattering. I pegged it back around the corner, where I caught my dog red handed, guiltily nabbing the biscuits from the coffee table. He's seven years old and never stolen food before. Damn McVities, what have you done to Monty?


Oh boy. They nailed it. The sturdy, wheat biscuits were truly complimented by a caramel that delivered a coffee kick much stronger than the Twix. The nature of the caramel means that it's still very sweet, but the flavour is not hindered in any way. In fact it want until writing this that I realised that the biscuit wasn't coffee too, for the flavour had permeated throughout. The chocolate was good too, which has got me thinking: why aren't caramel mochas a thing? 


I loved the taste of the cappuccino thins when they launched at the beginning of the year, but wasn't happy with the thin nature. I'm all for a bit of biscuit chunk (and hence won't be reviewing the 'new' Maryland thins -they can bore off). These are far superior, and well worth a buy!

10/10

Friday, 23 June 2017

NEW! Warrior Crunch White Chocolate Crisp

Yesterday was one of those days when the food stars aligned and I became the proud owner of not one but two incredible sounding new treats to try. Firstly, I had the heads up from Beth regarding the dates that the new McVities coffee caramel digestives were launching in each of the supermarkets and as a direct result successfully found them at last! Hurrah! I have already tried the new biscuits but you'll have to wait until tomorrow for the low down I'm afraid.

One the other hand, the other new product was equally as exciting, but one I really didn't have to wait long for....

I popped into CNSport yesterday morning to speak to Conor about the new Mojito Moose Juice (which is amazing, but keep an eye on my Instagram if you want to see the review) and found him super excited about a new arrival that he thought i'd love. I wondered what it could be, but also jumped up and down when he opened the box and showed me the bar that had made my jaw drop and mouth water simultaneously when it was announced on social media only the evening before. Warrior Crunch: White chocolate crisp. 


If you remember, I likened the salted caramel crunch to a toffee crisp chocolate bar, and so I had extremely high hopes for this white chocolate version. 



I had every right to be excited too. Just look at those layers! The nougat core, caramel layer and crispies all coated in white chocolate. This was what protein bar dreams are made of, nay this is what white chocolate bar dreams are made of. 


The appearance was a fantastic start, but the taste was phenomenal. Protein bars have been coming on leaps and bounds in the last year but I can safely say that this was the best bar I have ever tasted. In fact, I'm tempted to go back and downgrade all the other bars I've reviewed in the past. The white chocolate was sweet creamy, so much so that I'm dubious about the low sugar content, but I really don't care as it tasted so good, as for the caramel and crispies, they added a wonderful textural juxtaposition against the soft nougat centre. It really was soft too, not much firmer than a mars bar, and completely lacking the tell-tale taste of whey that often hinders in the background. As an added bonus (which isn't really required but I thought I'd divulge anyway) the bar melts exceptionally well. 15-20 seconds is all that's required to transform this epic bar into a wonderful dessert.


I thought that Grenade were the undisputed kings of the White chocolate protein bars, but Warrior have completely knocked them out of the park with this one. There's nothing I would change about this bar. 

A huge thanks to Conor for giving me the new Warrior bars to try. Please give him a bell on 07967949984 if you'd like to place an order, but you'll have to be quick as I don't see these bars hanging around for long!


10/10

Macros per 64g bar: 214kCal P20 C25 (of which sugars 2.2g) F11

Thursday, 22 June 2017

NEW! McVities Penguin Cake Crunchers (Tesco)

How has it already been a week since I reviewed the Trio cake crunchers? Scrap that, how was yesterday the summer Equinox? Christmas doesn't seem five minutes ago, and yet Sunday will mark six months until the best day of the year. Yep, I'm counting down already and will be celebrating in my own way on Sunday, keep your eyes peeled on my Instagram if you want to see what I mean. Anyway, where were we? Cake crunchers. Yes, well of you remember I wasn't impressed by the lack of crunch in the Trio cake 'crunchers', but could the Penguin bars fare better? 


"Sponge cakes with a creamy layer and crunchy biscuit pieces, covered in milk chocolate."


The cakes were aesthetically pleasing to cut into with their respective layers, I'll give them that. Penguin cake bars have, of course, been around for donkeys but it was the cookies and cream flavour that first drew me to the bars (even a hint of Oreo anything and I'm there). The trouble is, 'cookies and cream' has become synonymous with 'unflavoured' in the same way that 'vanilla' has, and that was certainly the case with these bars. The original penguin cakes have a chocolate layer above the sponge, but this was just a plain mousse. I mean it wasn't unpleasant, but it was far from spectacular either.


 To make matters worse, the biscuit pieces were again more-or-less inexistent. At only 4% of the bars they were never really going to make an impact though we're they? Why bother Mcvities? Ah yes, because then you can label it as new and draw us suckers in. 

On a brighter note, the chocolate covering and cake were fair, in a cheap, long-life cake sort of way. They were also individually wrapped which makes them good for lunch boxes, but they're also high in sugar (10g per 24g bar) so be warned if you're giving them to children! These bars have got me thinking, why don't McVities make a Hershey's cookies n creme style penguin biscuit? White chocolate studded with biscuit crumbs and a milk chocolate filling? Now that sounds good to me... 


5/10 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

NEW! Limited Edition Strawberry Swirl Jammie Dodgers (Home Bargains)

Yes, I'm still on the coffee caramel digestive hunt. It's driving me loopy now! Apparently they're on Ocado and in some Spars, but they still don't seem to have made an appearance in rural Hereford yet. Or Cardiff for that matter. My sister and I intended to go trampolining on Saturday, but when we got off the bus outside the trampoline park we decided that it was too hot to spend the afternoon inside - let alone doing any kind of exercise. Instead we made a quick detour into B&M and Home Bargains before getting back on the bus to her house for a sunbathing session. As soon as we walked through the door in Home Bargains I spotted jammy dodgers in different packaging. Ooh the past it had an ice cream cone on it! Was this a new flavour? Strawberry swirled. Hmm. It was hardly the most imaginative limited edition, but it was new, and would have to do in lieu of the digestives. Plus who doesn't love a good Jammie Dodger?


"Strawberry flavoured jam with vanilla flavour filling sandwiched between two shortcake biscuits."

I'm not sure where the swirl comes in but the cream filling was present on one side of the otherwise standard looking JDs. The biscuits were just as I remembered, not as crumbly as most shortcakes but with a decent vanilla flavour. It  don't expect that it'll shock you that the strawberry and cream style filling worked well together. The jam was -of course- very sweet and artificial,  and the vanilla was gooey and somewhat marshmallow-like. 


The biscuits were pleasant, but once again we find ourselves with a very lazy limited edition. With endless possible flavour combinations out there, why have we been palmed off with what's essentially a Happy Face/Classic jam ring biscuit? I miss the old banana and toffee JDs, but would love to see Burtons create something more exciting: rhubarb and custard, lemon meringue or peanut butter perhaps? 


6/10 

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

NEW! Tiramisu Con Biscotti Speziatti *Biscoff Tiramisu* (LIDL)

Last week I popped into Lidl for my regular restock of Skyr and picked up their weekly deal brochure on the way out. Ooh Italian week! That sounded good. Normally there's a couple of items that sound rather scrummy, but this time I was positively drooling at the sight of some of the items on offer for the week. That's it, I'd have to go back on Thursday (aka special buy day) to fill up on Italian style treats. The one item that sounded especially good was the speculoos tiramisus. The regular readers amongst you will know that tiramisu is one of my favourite desserts, and that I'm currently obsessed with anything biscoff. At £1.29 for two packs they were slightly dearer than your average supermarket cheesecake, but they still sounded like a reasonably good deal to me. 



"Spiced Biscuit Base Topped with Vanilla Flavour Mousse, Sprinkled with Chocolate Flavoured Powder."

I'm not sure how Lidl have got away with calling them tiramisus really, seeing as they were devoid of Savoiardi or coffee-although they do include a minute amount of alcohol (1.5%) and mascarpone cheese (which comes even lower down the ingredients list). In fact the cocoa dusting and the pots they came in were the only real nods to the classic Italian dessert. Still, they'd reeled me in with the title and I was still looking forward to trying them.


I wasn't expecting the mousse to be marshmallowy. It was still light and airy, but it also had a gooey-ness to it that I haven't experienced with a mousse before. I could faintly taste the liqueur, but it's so mild that I wouldn't be able to tell you what it was.

At the bottom was the 'spiced biscuit' base, which also heralded further surprise. I was expecting it to taste like crushed Lotus biscuits, but instead it had a soft crumb -which was utterly delicious. The cake style base actually worked very well, especially because it had such a fantastic cinnamon flavour. I ended up googling 'speculoos cake recipes' as soon as I'd finished it. 


Now I took a punt and sent Bert to his Night shift with the other pot the same night I had mine. It was a risk because he claims to hate tiramisu, but seeing as it didn't contain coffee I thought it was worth the risk. He loved it. I'm glad he did too, otherwise I'd have been gutted that I'd wasted the other delicious pot. We'll be heading back to Lidl before Thursday (when The Middle Eastern week starts) to stock up and might even pick up a pack of the strawberry tiramisu -which is even less tiramisu-esque! 


8/10

Sunday, 18 June 2017

NEW! Mars Ice Cream Tubs (ASDA)

I wasn't too fussed on trying the new Mars ice cream tub when it first came out a couple of months ago. I mean, the ice cream bars are fabulous (albeit shockingly small) and I couldn't see the appeal of just eating the ice cream on its own. Surely nibbling the chocolate from around the bar whilst trying to stop yourself from getting covered in oozy caramel is the best thing about them, don't you agree? However, I happened to mention the new Mars and Snickers tubs in conversation with my sister though, who sounded much more excited by them. I then received report a week later from her that she's not only tried the Mars tub but had munched her way through three Mars pints since discovering them. That was it. I decided it was high time to get myself a tub. Like hell was I paying £3 though, instead I patiently waited for them to come back on offer, which they did this week -currently £2 per tub, exclusive to ASDA. 

"Dairy ice cream with caramel sauce (12%) and milk chocolate sauce (13%)."

The ice cream was on the soft side straight from the freezer, which makes it difficult to scoop on these hot summers days -not that I'm complaining about the weather, long may it last! I was over the moon when I spotted the large shards of chocolate that were embedded throughout though. Why, oh why, don't Mars highlight this in the tub's description?



Chocolate in the ice cream too? That makes it a winner for me! It reminded me of the new Magnum tubs, but with the addition of  both caramel and chocolate sauces. The second surprise came from the colour of the ice cream itself. I expected it to be creamy, but instead it was a very pale -almost malty- shade. 


Jeez. Whilst it wasn't comparable to Haagen-Dazs, Judes or Ben & Jerry's in terms of creaminess, it was reminiscent of summer days as a child: coming home from school and being given a Mars ice cream by my Gran, which always left me wanting more bars. It's like eating them mushed up, and in a waffle cone they were utterly delicious. The caramel sauce was more noticeable than the chocolate, but was as wonderful as I remembered it to be -sticky, sweet and toffee-like. Despite the shade of the ice cream, it didn't actually taste of chocolate, but I didn't really expect it to from the description on the pack, so I didn't feel disappointed. 

I've only got two real complaints:

1) How quickly the ice cream melted (you have too be quick with this one!)
and
2)  That the suggested serving size of 100ml (2 scoops) really isn't enough. 

Somehow this works better for me than the Magnum tubs, and I think I'll buy it over the Mars ice cream bars again -but only at £2 per tub. 

8/10





Friday, 16 June 2017

NEW! Müller Strawberry Oreo Yogurts (ASDA)

Last summer saw the launch of the Oreo split-pot yogurts. Unfortunately -as seems the case with many of the Oreo branded food products*- they weren't all that great. The trouble was, the yogurts are made by Müller. Müller have gone downhill in recent years, gone are the days of their thick and creamy yogurt; instead we're left with runny, artificially flavoured stuff that's best avoided. Still, I'm a sucker for anything labelled as Oreo, and I rather enjoyed the strawberry Oreo biscuits, so I just had to try them. You know... for the blog.. of course ;). I found them in ASDA at £2 for a pack of 4, but they're also in Tesco too (currently £2.89 for four). 


"Strawberry flavour yogurt with Oreo cookie pieces"

The yogurt side wasn't to the top, but it wasn't ridiculously empty either. As for the cookie side however, well that was pathetic. I was disappointed but unsurprised to find that, despite the artwork on the front of the four-pack depicting strawberry Oreos, the cookie pieces were plain. At only 8% of the yogurt, I suppose you couldn't have told the difference even if Müller had decided to go the whole hog anyway. Ooh, aren't I the cynic?



If you've had any of the strawberry split pot Müller corners recently, you'll know what to expect from the larger side of this yogurt. It was thin in consistency, with an artificial -albeit fairly pleasant- flavour. The strawberry worked well with the Oreo pieces (as it had with the biscuits), I just wished that the yogurt was thicker and creamier. This isn't supposed to be a diet yogurt after all! 



This new edition is a small improvement on the plain Oreo split-pot, and one of the nicer Müller corners available. Try them if the corners are your bag, but if -like me- you prefer thicker style yogurts, then I suggest you make your own using Skyr/Greek Yogurt and crumbled strawberry Oreos. 

6/10



Thursday, 15 June 2017

NEW! McVities Trio Toffee Cake Crunchers (Tesco)

Apologies for the infrequency of posts this week. I've been super busy with a few projects (mainly work) and am experiencing a number of technical issues (both my Mac and phone aren't working properly) so please bear with me. Anyway... 

It appears that McVities are treating us to a whole host of new products at the moment. Not only have they released the scrummy new Banoffee Caramel Digestives, and the elusive Coffee Caramel Digestives (pleeeeeease shout me if you find them!) but they've also launched two new individually wrapped cakes based on two of their successful lunchbox biscuits. The first I'm reviewing today, but please stay tuned for my thoughts on their new a penguin Cookies & Cream Cake Cruncher bars. 



"Toffee Flavour Cream and Crunchy Biscuit Pieces Covered in Milk Chocolate."

The apparently iconic* Trio bars were reintroduced as a limited edition last summer, but it seems they're here to stay. Not that I'm complaining. I found packs of this new cake version of the toffee biscuit bars in ASDA for £1.78, balked at the price, then found them on offer in Tesco a week later at the far more reasonable sum of £1.00. 


Both the cake and chocolate were indifferent to those used McVities Jaffa Cake Bars. That's to say that the chocolate was reasonable, although there wasn't enough of it to really distinguish it's quality. The cake was fairly light and fluffy for a long-life cake, but again it was pretty bland. 



The toffee cream however was scrummy, with a butterscotch flavour that hit the spot in a truly nostalgic fashion. It was very sweet, but that's what I expected -especially as each 24g cake contains 9.9g of sugar! As for the biscuit pieces, blink and you miss them. There's nowhere near enough of them (they only constitute 3.5% of the bars) which I can't help but think is a shame -not to mention a huge marketing ploy. Cake crunchers my arse

Give these new cakes a go if you're after either an intense sugar hit and/or a little nostalgia. Don't expect anything groundbreaking and you won't be disappointed. 
7/10.

*Despite being an 80s baby and junk food addicted child (and adult) I can't actually remember them. 

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Choc Affair Orange & Geranium Milk Chocolate (Online)

The 'new' Mars Choc Brownie bar turned out to be pretty unexciting, but thankfully there are companies out there who are prepared to be bolder with their flavours. Take Choc Affair for example, the British handmade chocolatier who refuse to shy away from the more traditional pairings, such as their rhubarb milk and mango white chocolate bars. Today's review features another one of their twists on the classics; a veritably seasonal combination of orange and geranium. Whilst rose -and to some extent lavender- are occasionally used in sweet treats, I can honestly never remember ever having seen anything geranium flavoured.... 



"Our orange & geranium chocolate is a firm favourite amongst the team here at Choc affair HQ, and is just delicious. A creamy milk chocolate infused with natural flavours.  But don’t take our word for it, see for yourself!
Let your cares drift away with this perfect pairing of sweet, sun drenched oranges, and jolly notes of summer geraniums."
As soon as I unwrapped the beautifully packaged bar I could smell the refreshing tang of orange combined with the sweetly scented milk chocolate. Appearance wise it looked indifferent to the rhubarb bar; darker in colour than your usual milk due to the high cocoa content, but utterly smooth with a subtle glossiness.



First to hit my palate was the luxuriously rich milk chocolate which -as I've come to expect from Choc Affair- was melt-in-the-mouth with a creaminess that makes you feel as if you're diving into a pool of molten chocolate. Next up was the orange, which was milder in taste than the scent led me to believe it would be -in fact I would've preferred it to be slightly bolder. Then the geranium followed, delivering a floral flavour that wasn't too dissimilar to rose. Admittedly I'm not a huge rose fan, and I found that the geranium overshadowed the orange, especially as I continued to munched my way through the bar. As that last sentence suggests, I didn't find the geranium to be unpleasant, it just wasn't my favourite flavour. I imagine those who do enjoy a spot of Turkish Delight would really enjoy the combination however, so please don't let my personal preferences put you off this high quality chocolate. I'm certainly looking forward to trying Choc Affair's peach and raspberry white chocolate - now that sounds exciting and right up my street.


Thank you to Choc Affair for the samples. You can buy any of their innovative, luxury, handmade chocolate bars direct from their website here.


Saturday, 10 June 2017

NEW! Banoffee Brownies (Co-Op)

I'd vowed not to by any more baked goods. My cupboards are brimming with all kinds of biscuits, and I've recently started baking again (which I'm thoroughly enjoying). I thought I was doing well with my oath, even not giving in to my doughnut cravings (largely caused by The Tandem Bakery's Instagram feed).  My self-restraint caved completely though this week when I saw a story by the lovely Emma (@EmmasFood) which featured banoffee brownies. I hope you agree this constituted a cake emergency, although I did manage to abstain from heading to the Co-Op in my pyjamas that evening, and indeed managed to wait until I was on my way home from the gym the next day. 




"Banana and toffee flavour chocolate brownies topped with salted fudge pieces."

The pack cost £1 and included 8 square brownie chunks. Despite them being sat with the fresh cakes they had a reasonably long shelf life of about a month. Upon opening the bag I was greeted with a rich cocoa aroma, followed by a lingering artificial banana scent.  Uh oh. I hope that wasn't a precursor for a chemical taste. 


Unfortunately it was. On the positive side the brownies were soft in the middle, with a decent squidge and deep cocoa flavour.  Sounds great, right? Except for that damn banana. It wasn't even a pleasant foam banana sweet or milkshake kind of flavour; it was nasty and synthetic. I can't even see banana mentioned in the ingredients list. How can some companies get it so wrong? At least McVities got it right

What a shame! If only the Co-Op had chosen to use real banana instead of some artificial flavourings to make these brownies. They had so much potential. I guess I'll just have to make my own....

4/10

Friday, 9 June 2017

NEW! Monarch Sugar Free Mango & Orange Fizz (Sweets Without)

I've mentioned before the pride we take in our sweetie jar. It resides on our coffee table infant of the sofa in our living room, and is regularly filled with a combination of Haribo, foam shrimps and bananas and strawberry laces. It's Bert who can't resist their call though. He is to candy as I am to chocolate. I tend to prefer the occasional boiled sweet, and one of my favourites is Aldi's sugar-free rhubarb & custards (honestly, try them, they're brilliant). This month Sweets Without offered to send me Monarch's new sugar free Mango & Orange Fizz, which I thought would be an interesting -and seasonally apt- change. As far as I'm aware I haven't tried Monarch's sweets before, but a quick look at their website revealed their huge selection of both sugar and non-sugar sweets - which are all handmade in Scotland.


The pack contained approximately 20 marble sized colourful balls. They were bigger than I imagined they would be, and were all slightly different to each other, which gave them a wonderful traditional appearance. 


Orange was the most dominant flavour, obscuring the mango that hankered somewhere in the background. In fact the taste reminded me a little of Robinson's orange and mango squash, which I loved as a child, so I was grateful for the nostalgia. As promised there was a fizziness to the sweets, but it wasn't a sour fizz like Haribo Tangfastics, rather they struck more similarities to sherbet. In fact I kept thinking (hoping) that I'd find a pocket of mango flavoured sherbet powder in the middle, but of course I didn't. 

It's quite astounding that Monarch can produce a sweet that tastes so, well, sweet, but without the sugar and only a handful of ingredients (Isomalt, citric acid, Bicarbonate of soda, flavouring, colours: E102 E110, E142). They're tasty summery sweets, and would be perfect for diabetics, or indeed anyone trying to cut down on sugar. The Monarch Mango and Orange Fizz are available for £1.40 from Sweets Without's website, and you'll even get free delivery if you spend over £10!

7/10

Thursday, 8 June 2017

NEW! Sicilian Lemon & Ricotta Cheesecake Slices (M&S)

Occasionally I find myself craving cheesecake that's not chocolate based. I know. Shocker. In fact I'm quite partial to the odd lemony pud -be it a drizzle cake, meringue pie, tarte au citron or cheesecake- but only if it offers a balanced juxtaposition of sweet and tart. It's for this reason that I'm fond of Gü's citrus cheesecake and steer clear of Aldi's version. The former is delightfully light and zingy whilst the latter is acidic and barely enjoyable. Given my recent experiences with M&S' Spirit Of Summer desserts I believed I could depend upon them to deliver a refreshing, summery cheesecake. 


"Sicilian lemon and ricotta baked cheesecake on a digestive biscuit base topped with a Sicilian lemon glaze and candies lemon peel."

At 110g each they were larger than your usual cheesecake slice, which especially pleased me as I'd only paid 95p for the pack because I'd been lucky enough to pop in at reducing time (I believe they're normally £2.75). 


The consistency of the cheesecake was surprisingly fluffy. It wasn't moussey like M&S' sunken Chocolate & Valencian Orange cheesecake, but it wasn't gelatinous like most other mass produced cheesecakes either. In fact, texturally the cheesecake was pretty damn perfect. It was just the flavour that ruined it. Instead of the sweet tang that I'd hoped for, all I could taste was the bitter lemon pith that you'll find if you ever zest a lemon too far. The resulting flavour wasn't great. I mean it was edible, but I can't say I particularly enjoyed it. 


Against the acidic cheesecake the flavour of the glaze was lost. I tried a little on its own, and it seemed fairly tasty, but it offered little in the way of redemption. Come on biscuit base! Please be better... 

But it wasn't. It was of decent thickness, I'll give M&S that, but what's the point when it was utterly soggy? I can't help but think that an amaretti biscuit would've worked well here, both in terms of flavour and texture. 

Oh dear M&S. 


5/10

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

The Treat Collective (Online)

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by a lovely lady called Jo, who told me about her company: The Treat Collective. As you might've gathered, I have a passion for discovering independent and small-batch manufacturers in the U.K, and so when I found out that The Treat Collective is a subscription service who collates sweet treats from independent British manufacturers and sends them directly to your door once a month, I gladly accepted her kind offer of a sample box. 

A few days later I received a parcel, which I assumed might be the Treat Collective box, but when I opened it I discovered a present inside. You see the box inside was wrapped in lollipop gift paper. It wasn't my Birthday. Surely this couldn't be The Treat Collective...?



But it was! This box really did embody the company's name. I felt utterly spoilt when unwrapping the parcel, and again when I lifted the lid on the box inside. 


Wow! What a joyful collection of goodies! I spotted the cute little gummy bears, the artisan fruit & nut chocolate, the cute citrus sweets... then spied The Grown Up Chocolate Company's wonderful 'Perfectly Buttery Peanut Cups', before my eyes rested on Nellienoo's CARAMAC FUDGE. Ahem. I might've been a tad excited. Normally in subscription boxes theres one or more item that I wouldn't have chosen myself, but I was looking forward to each and every item in this parcel. 



Also included in the box was a handy guide to the companies included within The Treat Collective box, which was a really nice touch. I absolutely love the idea behind this company. If you also like to discover the Best of British confectionary then I highly suggest you head over to their website where you can sign up to receive a monthly treat box for the reasonable sum of £24.00 per month. 

10/10

Thank you to Jo for the sample Treat Collective box. Reviews of the individual items will follow on my Instagram feed, so keep your eyes out! 

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

NEW! Mars Choc Brownie Review

Theres a new Mars bar in town! Well. I say new, but is it really? Mars Choc Brownie certainly sounds new, but it also sounds eerily similar to the Mars Triple Choc and the Xtra Choc. Are they just rehashing the same bar under different guises? Quite possibly. It didn't sound much different...

The press releases for all three bars went as follows:

2011 Triple Choc: 'tasty chocolate nougat and delicious chocolate caramel, covered in thick milk chocolate'.

2015 Xtra Choc: 'extra chocolatey taste from delicious chocolate caramel and tasty chocolate nougat encased in a thick chocolate coat' 

2017 new Choc Brownie: 'thick chocolate nougat with indulgent dark caramel”, covered in Mars chocolate, to create a “new twist on a chocolate classic”.

Ahem. In any case, I miss the discontinued Xtra Choc, so set out on a mission to find the Choc Brownie at the same time as the new McVities banoffee caramel and coffee* caramel digestives! The new Mars bar was  reportedly launched on the 22nd of May (once again, thanks to @productsinstore for the heads up) but I couldn't find it for love nor money. In the end I harassed my poor corner shop so much that they eventally got them in. Hurrah! It's therefore worth checking your corner shops, although I've seen reports that four packs are in Bargain Buys and PoundWorld (just not in Hereford PoundWorld).


Slicing it in half revealed the distinct Mars layers of milk chocolate (35%), nougat (37%) and caramel (28%) in completely different hues to the standard bar. 

The nougat and chocolate was as expected, indifferent to the Xtra Choc bar, but sweet and scrummy nonetheless. Described as dark caramel I'm unsure whether the gooey layer was meant to taste of chocolate seeing as there was already so much chocolate in the bar. To me it had tones reminiscent of black treacle and was unlike that used in the Xtra Choc bar - but perhaps that was my wishful imagination. 


I enjoyed the Mars Choc Brownie and will be sure to buy more once I've made my way through my extensive chocolate collection! Just be warned - it's a bar for those in dire need of a sugar hit. 

My only gripe is that surely the team at Mars could be more creative than rehashing the old limited editions. Given the variety in flavours of nougat style protein bars, surely Mars could bring out something more creative! It wouldn't even have to be as different as the wonderful Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Smart Bar or Banana Carb Killa -although chocolate bar versions of both of those bars would be great! A peanut butter, white chocolate or mocha Mars Bar would suffice!

7/10

* which I still haven't found yet, so please get in touch if you find them!